Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Jan 09

So I’ve decided that since I’m posting reviews on Goodreads anyway, I might as well start posting them to this blog. Especially since I’ve got a nice fat stack of books (both digital and hardcopy) to make my way through (all in the name of research! I’m so dedicated, aren’t I?) and also because with every review that I write, it helps me become more critical and constructive with regard to my own work.

Anyway, first book on the docket is Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I’ve had this book on my to-read list forEVER, ever since I first heard the concept, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read it, frankly. It was a quick read for me — finished in a couple of days. I did have quite a few qualms with it, and couldn’t really decide how I should rate it for a little while, but in the end I figure that the fact that I was thinking about it so much after I was done was a pretty good sign. So it gets a 3.5-star review from me.

Need to process my thoughts a bit before I can rate/review. I will say the last 1/4 of the book was really riveting stuff… Torturous but delicious ending. Although I seriously cannot get over how many times the author used the word “swath” — seriously, what kind of 17-year-old uses that word so regularly?!

Okay. So. I guess in the end I really did like this book, but I had to think about it for a little bit, haha. This is really more like a 3.5 star book for me, and I’m going to tackle this in pieces, because again, I’ve started to promise myself to be more critical and constructive in my reviews–since that’s absolutely what I would want for myself!

Main Character: I had a hard time connecting to Lena as a protagonist in the beginning, partially because her issues with self-confidence and her self-image (I’m soooo plain, no boy would eeeeever like me, except this totally hot guy is obsessed with me and thinks I’m super beautiful so no big deal didn’t seem realistic to me. I mean, I guess they were, but I guess it’s also been a really long time since I was 17. Anyway, I liked how her character developed at the end, and when the big bomb was dropped (SPOILER ALERT!) about her mom still being alive, I thought she handled it very realistically without being annoying or superior about it. Also, and I know this is mostly credit to Lauren Oliver’s writing, but man, this book is really beautifully written. So many vivid, picturesque descriptions… really, really lovely stuff.

Story: I thought the story was good. As mentioned in my status updates while writing, the book itself starts off strong in the first couple of chapters, then I quickly found the pace slowing a bit. Of course, the last 1/3 – 1/4 of the book is extremely fast-paced, and once I hit the 60-something-percent mark, I couldn’t put it down.

World-building: This is probably where I had my biggest qualms. A lot of the world-building seemed very bare-bones. I know that this isn’t a hard-dystopian or anything, but all the circumstances surrounding the setting seemed very loose. This takes place, what, 60-some years in the future? And yet technology seems not to have advanced at all. And while I really loved the concept of love being identified as a disease, the control of information and access didn’t really seem that realistic–the inability for people to ever leave their cities, and the (SPOILER ALERT!) the existence of the invalids living SO CLOSE. I mean, it’s walkable soooo… how have they not been discovered/raided/torn apart by the government? It’s not like Portland, Maine is a bastion of farms and industry, right? How are they getting their supplies? How are they getting anything? The government would have to have a way to bring things in and out, and unless I just glossed over some detail where Alex explains how the settlement is hidden away and whatnot, I just don’t see how they wouldn’t be discovered and their settlement decimated. Anyway, I digress.

Romance: I’m such a sucker, what can I say? I know this book has a serious case of insta-love going on, but I can’t help it. By the end, I was just as smitten with Alex as Lena was, reveling in his perfection (though a few more flaws would’ve been nice to see in terms of character layering, of course), but c’mon. I mean, who doesn’t want to be loved like that?

This book is obviously a romance, with a dash of dystopia tossed in as the setting. It was an engaging enough read, though it definitely dragged in the middle and I found myself glossing over some of Oliver’s more descriptive (but again, beautiful!) paragraphs just so I could see what was going to happen next. I thought the character of Hana was particularly strong and well done, but I do wish there were some more secondary characters. And that we had gotten to see some grown-ups who weren’t just all awful, haha. I guess that’s what future books are for though, eh?

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